Learning Liturgies

Let me get one thing straight right away:

I am no expert on the subject of liturgies. Not even close.

It is, however, something that I am learning and loving at the moment.

You could say that liturgy is a trending word and topic at the moment--which is really quite funny--because liturgy is most certainly not new or cutting edge. Not in the least. In fact, it might be one of the oldest most basic human things we have--just making its come back as of late.

I have so enjoyed my leisurely read through a little book I stumbled upon earlier this year--Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren. I say leisurely not due to lack of interest--you know those books you sort of pick up and put down and leave for a while and come back to--it's not like that. I'm legitimately enjoying every morsel of it and I sort of don't want it to end--more like that. I may or may not have joined a leadership cohort at church that's very heavy on the reading and leading in the midst of my read and therefore haven't had as much time or attention to give to it as of late--but I legit miss it while I'm away. It's that sort of a read. I obviously highly recommend it. It's definitely one of those books that I know is going to be a reference point for me far into the future--a bench marker of sorts--a turning point in my faith life.

The basic premise of the book is this: as Christians we tend to waste a lot of our lives chasing down the extraordinary. We wait around and long for the big, earth shattering, life altering moments in faith and impact, when actually we are missing out on so many opportunities in between. In our pursuit of the extraordinary, we throw away so much ordinary that has the potential to be extraordinary. The book proposes a perspective shift--a shift back to the beauty and rhythm of liturgies-but not only in the very traditional church-y sense of the word. Often we imagine liturgy to mean sitting and standing in hard pews surrounded by stained glass apostles and sliding rosary beads through our fingers. We box it in and we tuck it away and we decide that liturgy doesn't allow for God to work and move.

Actually, it seems, we couldn't be more wrong.

Liturgy is so much more. Liturgy is the daily rhythm of our everyday ordinary lives in harmony with God moving and breathing and speaking. Liturgy is not shutting Him out or boxing Him in, it's actually creating more space and opportunity in our days and our lives to let Him in and to let Him speak and move. It's including Him in our rhythms, our habits, our ordinary and allowing Him to show His extraordinary self there. It's refusing to wait around to find Him in the explosive moments and instead recognizing that He is already present and active in the flow of our lives. The author encourages us to look at our daily lives and build rhythms around what we're already doing all of the time. Rather than carving out more space for "Jesus time," why not utilize already had time in different ways-why not include him in the everyday rhythm?

Here are a few of my favorite liturgies that I've been working into my everyday as I've journeyed through this book---

Making the Bed
Something I used to be much more faithful and diligent about before I got the queen sized bed that's pushed against a wall. Something about that set up just doesn't motivate me to keep on top of this. However, it's something I really want to keep on top of. It's something I know makes me feel better about the rest of my day and a habit I want to cultivate. So, I figured since I was looking to work on a new habit, this was a good space to build in liturgy. I have not been perfect with this, but I am faithfully trying to make this the first thing I do when I wake up. Make the bed, call my little pup up with me, and say a prayer to start my day. But not just any prayer, a prayer that I have written and that is specifically meant for this moment--to kick start my day. It's a simple prayer that thanks God for another sunrise, for new life, for his grace and mercy, and that asks Him to center me for the day. Though I still struggle through the waking up early, this is becoming a sweet start to my day that I really miss when I skip.

Washing the Dishes
I happen to live in a 1920's building with no dish washers. I hand wash all of my dishes. This is no big deal for me since I have lived in several spaces without a dish washer. I'm also a neat freak who does not like dishes piling up--I won't even go to sleep with dirty dishes in the sink. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time doing dishes. It felt like a natural way to build in a regular liturgy. Spiritually something that I struggle with a lot is confession and asking for forgiveness--not because I don't want to, simply because in my pride I forget that I've done anything in need of repentance that day. Of course I have-probably done many things that I'm not even aware of. So, I felt very strongly that the prayer and the liturgy around the dishes should be one of confession, admission, and asking for forgiveness. I wanted that to become a part of my daily life, and since dishes are definitely a part of my daily life, this seemed like a sure way to get it in--maybe even on multiple occasions. It's a prayer that simply confesses my sin and my brokenness and neediness. It thanks God for His love and grace and mercy that are bigger than the sin and the shame.

Getting Ready
Something I've struggled with a great deal through the years is body image and insecurity surrounding my weight and my value in light of it. I've always doubted my desirability because I don't look like a girl on the pages of Vogue. And look--you can tell me until you're blue in the face that I'm beautiful and that it doesn't matter and I can tell myself and I can know it, but the struggle is still very present and very real. I've worked really hard this last year to let go of some of that and embrace my body for what it is--to stop hating it and beating myself up about it and just do the best that I can for it. When I decided to build a liturgy around getting ready, I knew it needed to correlate to this idea. It needed to be a prayer that I said when I was in front of the mirror. A prayer asking God to show me how He sees me and to learn to love myself the way that He does so that I can love others better. This liturgy is meant to be said while I'm in front of the mirror--to force me to look into my own eyes.

I won't lie to you--praying before I eat is something that has faded for me through the years. I still pray when I'm with family or a group of believers, but when I'm alone or with one or two people, I usually don't. I decided this is a liturgy I should build back into my life. Not as a piece of ritual, but as an opportunity in my day to take a moment and to thank God for His provision and precious gifts. This is a moment to be grateful and to recognize that even my most basic needs come from His hands. 

Getting up Early
Oh goodness am I struggling through this one--mostly because I cannot get to sleep super early and also because my body literally cannot function before7:00AM. But I'm trying because I know this is an incredibly valuable and rewarding habit to build. I know that my day always goes much better when I've taken the time to wake up, stretch a bit, sip some coffee, and get some time with Jesus in. I want so much for this to be a lasting liturgy in my life. Currently I'm facing this alongside a friend from church who also struggles. We've been encouraging each other through texts and calls and sharing the good days and the bad. This is a liturgy I want as a constant fixture--a non-negotiable in my life. It feels like I met never get there at the moment, but I certainly hope and pray I will. Here are a few things I'm doing to make this time something I look forward to:

1. I set up my diffuser with an essential oil blend the night before--all I have to do is turn it on in the morning! My favorite lately--spearmint/tangerine/lemongrass

2. I treat myself to really nice coffee (homemade cold brew, French press, etc.)

3. I choose Scripture passages that I get excited to read and that really help set the tone of my day. I've spent this week in 1 Corinthians 13. It's a passage I never get tired of going back to, and my Pastor taught it again this past Sunday.

4. I choose a word and a thought for the day to hold onto in case everything else slips away in the chaos. This week--"love extravagantly"

5. I choose a person to pray for and to send an encouraging text or note to for that day. Sometimes when I start praying for all the things I need to pray for, I get overwhelmed. This is a way to focus my thoughts and prayers and give them more quality.

This one is brand new and honestly something I have hardcore failed at this first week. I work in tech and my days can get absolutely insane. I rarely even stop for lunch or if I do, I rarely ever leave my desk to eat it. I work in a particulary fast pace industry, but I am very aware that this is not unique to me. Moms of littles, teachers, pastors, etc. We all feel it. I have started adding a personal space on my calendar every day called "pause." This shows up on my work calendar along with every meeting and appointment. It's a visual reminer for me to just stop and take a breath and try to think clearly.

I can't stress enough that I am still learning this! I love love love the thought of all of these being a very natural part of my daily rhythm, but I am so not there yet. Sometimes I do half of them on half the days. But, this is habit building, and these are the habits I want in my everyday ordinary. So, I'm keeping at it! Let us know where you're at with liturgy in your own life at the moment! We would love to hear about your journey or your thoughts!

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